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June 29: The Globe Theater Burns to the Ground

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On this day in 1613, the original Globe Theater in London, built by Shakespeare and his gang of thespians, burnt to the ground after a special-effects cannon set fire to some thatching during a performance of Henry VIII. As you might imagine, in 17th century London, theaters weren’t so stuffy as they are today. It was entertainment for the masses. You could gain entrance for as little as a penny, so long as you were willing to stand in what they called “the Pit.” It was a night for the regular folk to cut loose. Everyone got loud and drunk. The audience, the vendors, even some of the actors were generally loaded. You wouldn’t have found fine brandies and French wines in the foyer of the old Globe, but touts from the tap house next door were happy to sell you reasonably priced porter, ale and gin, and plenty of it. Sad fact: A near replica of the Globe was built on the same spot in the 1990s, and while it may look the same, its soul has changed. To wit: Want go guess how much a cocktail costs at the bar in the new Globe? They average around a dozen pounds a go. That’s about 15 bucks to we Yanks. Sheesh.